When writing an academic essay—who is my audience?
It usually is determined by the assignment outline and your professor's preferences. For instance, if the assignment is a theoretical reflection—you may be able to use "I" in order to narrate the piece and how you responded to it. In this kind of assignment the audience would be less formal and more intimate. However, if you are to write a historical essay the rules may be more formal, you should most likely not use "I" and include a large number of historical references material, including quotes and avoid addressing the reader.
How does critical thinking apply to literary studies?
By reading literature we are not only subject to learning about human nature and moral conflict—socializing us as subjects. The reader also begins to process the narrative and track/judge the character's actions stimulating the reader's impulses to think critically.
How do cultural studies pertain to English studies?
Cultural studies are often the extension of English studies. The inclusion of literature by ethnic groups outside of the hegemonic English masters, have helped universities update their canon and diversify their curriculums with material that critically questions the hegemonic views of previously celebrated and upheld masters. Cultural studies helps bring forth new perspectives on previously ethnocentric views of history.